Expatriate Misperceptions

Expatriate Misperceptions

Another factor which affected the mujahidin cause was the insistence thatmujahidin victory was to be synonymous with the transfer of power to thePeshawar parties. The expatriate political process created a distortedperception of the social and political realities created by fourteen years ofwar. Contention for power at the national level could not be contained withinthe parameters of a struggle essentially among Pushtuns based in Peshawar.Challenges had emerged from the minorities, especially the Tajiks, Uzbeks andHazaras. Moreover, the political arena was greatly complicated by the intimateties that neighboring governments and political agencies had fashioned with theparties and the major communities inside Afghanistan. For all the emphasis thePeshawar leadership placed upon installing an Islamic order, implicit in theirexpectations was the assumption that social basis of government was continuityof Pushtun dominance.

Such expectations were as much a product of the immediate concerns they facedin Pakistan as they were linked to a tradition of Pushtun rule. The refugees,their captive constituency, were overwhelmingly Pushtun and overwhelmingly fromthe Ghilzai and eastern tribal areas. Almost all were villagers living inmassive, quasi-urban camps, subject to degrees of regimentation and controlwhich sharply contrasted with their accustomed autonomy. In Pakistan they servedas a political sounding board for the parties, thereby magnifying the partyleaders' perception of popular acceptance of their ideology and themselves. Itwas convenient to overlook the fact that large as it was, the refugee populationdid not genuinely represent the demographic and social realities insideAfghanistan itself. As a result of their absence, the refugees in Pakistansharply reduced the proportion of Pushtuns actually living inside Afghanistan.From a putative majority, they had clearly become a distinct minority. Whilerefugee return after the war was expected, it was uncertain when they couldreturn and how many eventually would.

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